History of Hymns: “Cantai ao Senhor”

(Cantad al Señor/O Sing to the Lord)
by Diana Sanchez-Bushong

“Cantai ao Senhor” (Cantad al Señor/O Sing to the Lord)
Traditional Brazilian folk song;
Hymnary.org

Portuguese:
Cantai ao Senhor um cantico novo,
cantai ao Senhor um cantico novo,
cantai ao Senhor um cantico novo,
cantai ao Senhor, cantai ao Senhor.

English:
O sing to the Lord, O sing God a new song,
O sing to the Lord, O sing God a new song,
O sing to the Lord, O sing God a new song,
O sing to the Lord, O sing to the Lord.

Spanish:
Cantad al Señor un cántico nuevo, 
cantad al Señor un cántico nuevo, 
cantad al Señor un cántico nuevo, 
cantad al Señor, cantad al Señor

Additional verses in Spanish:

2 El es creador y dueño de todo, 
el es creador y dueño de todo, 
el es creador y dueño de todo, 
cantad al Señor, cantad al Señor.

3 Cantad a Jesús porque el es digno, 
cantad a Jesús porque el es digno, 
cantad a Jesús porque el es digno, 
cantad al Señor, cantad al Señor.

4 Es el quien nos dio su Espíritu Santo, 
es el quien nos dio su Espíritu Santo, 
es el quien nos dio su Espíritu Santo, 
cantad al Señor, cantad al Señor.

5 Cantad al Señor, “¡Amén, aleluya!” 
cantad al Señor, “¡Amén, aleluya!” 
cantad al Señor, “¡Amén, aleluya!” 
Cantad al Señor, cantad al Señor. 

English and Spanish texts © 1986 Gerhard M. Cartford (1923-2016), admin. by Augsburg Fortress.

Many versions exist of this strong, angular hymn that boldly encourages us to sing a new song to God. Originally in Portuguese, this hymn of unknown authorship comes to us from Brazil. As it has made its way to the USA, most likely through conferences supported by the World Council of churches and noted leaders such as Pablo Sosa from Argentina, it is now translated into several languages and is included in over 22 hymnals, including USA denominational hymnals and songbooks.

The message of this hymn clearly alludes to Psalm 98: “O sing to the Lord a new song… Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praises.” The original first stanza states only that in a declamatory manner, repeating the same text over and over as the melody moves sequentially. The subsequent verses in Spanish were added on and gives this hymn a Trinitarian purpose as the verses center on God as Creator, Jesus who is worthy, and the gift of the Holy Spirit. The final verse is an admonition once more to “Sing to God,” followed by “Amen” and ”Aleluya.”

Gerhard Cartford, who supplied the additional verses in Spanish, was instrumental in the development of the Lutheran Book of Worship (1978). He also translated some hymns for Libro de Liturgia y Cántico and helped edit this hymnal.

“Cantai ao Senhor” can be sung as a gathering song for worship, led by a choir or sung by the whole congregation. It is short and melodic and therefore lends itself to being sung several times. This Brazilian folk melody should be sung with a sense of a strong waltz feel, accentuating the first beat of each measure. Instruments can include maracas, claves, and guiros on beats 2 and 3, and instruments such as guitar, drums and piano should reinforce the first beat of each measure. Allow drums or percussion instruments to play for 2-3 measures after each verse to keep the rhythmic energy moving forward. This song can also be used as a psalm response and as a musical segue from one liturgical action to another. To hear recordings with instruments, go to the GIA website for more ideas and performance practices. Various additional verses have been published in different hymnals, each giving a new take on this increasingly popular hymn and taking up the mandate to “sing God a new song!”
 


Sources

Hymnary.org website and special contents, © 2007-present Harry Plantinga.

Halle, Halle:  We Sing the World Round, compiled and written by C. Michael Hawn, © 1999, Choristers Guild

 

About this month’s guest writer:

Diana Sanchez-BushongDiana Sanchez-Bushong is the Director of Music and Worship at Westlake UMC, Austin, Texas. She served as the Director of Church Music Resources for the General Board of Discipleship from 1986-1993. She was a staff consultant to the Hymnal Revision Committee that produced The United Methodist Hymnal 1989 and also Mil Voces Para Celebrar, 1996.  She continues to write, lecture, and teach in the area of worship and music.

 

 

This article is provided as a collaboration between Discipleship Ministries and The Fellowship of United Methodists in Music and Worship Arts.  For more information about The Fellowship, visit UMFellowship.org/Hymns.

Discipleship Ministries
The Fellowship of United Methodists in Music and Worship Arts

 

Categories: History of Hymns, Hymnals By Name, Mil Voces Para Celebrar (Spanish-language Hymnal), Worship, Worship Planning, Civil Observances, Hispanic Heritage Month, Music & Hymnal Resources, Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month

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